If you want to holiday amidst ancient rainforests and palm-fringed beaches, you do not need to travel too far afield – just head to Cairns!

Pick yourself up a car hire in Cairns and you can travel along a beautiful loop road that will take you past some of the most spectacular spots around tropical Australia.

The entire loop should take you around 12 days to complete, as it is around 2,080 km long. Make sure you allow yourself plenty of time to stop and enjoy the view.

Here are some of the highlights you will see along your journey.

Port Douglas

Once you get to Port Douglas you will be surrounded by World Heritage-listed rainforest and reef, so make sure you soak it all up! The white sands of Four Mile Beach and the heights of Flagstaff Hill are not to be missed.

Ornithologists will want to make sure they head along to the rainforest wildlife sanctuary to make the most of the array of local bird life.

Great Barrier Reef

You may want to spend an extra day here at the Great Barrier Reef – this is one of the main highlights of this magnificent area.

Feast your eyes on the marine life, vibrant reefs and coral cays – you can get here from Cairns itself, or from Port Douglas, Mission Beach and Townsville.

Daintree forest

Split into two areas – the Mossman Gorge and Cape Tribulation – this park features beautiful rainforested mountains and long sandy beaches. The Cape Tribulation area was recognised as a World Heritage site in 1988 and is one of the most biologically diverse areas in the world.

Cooktown

Along the way to this magical town, you can walk along Cooya Beach, accompanied by Kuku Yalanji owners, and then head up to Daintree rainforest. Here you can spot tropical birds as well as primeval crocodiles.

Cooktown was Australia's first European settlement and this area featured a 19th century gold rush, so there are plenty of historic attractions to view.

Captain Cook's boat ran into difficulty in 1770 in the sea, and you can catch a glimpse of this exact area from the top of Grassy Hill.

Mareeba

Mareeba is known as Queensland's "tropical fruit bowl" and for good reason! In this town you can stop off at a number of eateries, roadside stalls or even at the orchards themselves, to sample some of the area's delicious delicacies.

Charters Towers

This is one of the areas with a heritage streetscape that can trace its ancestry back to the gold boom of the 1800s.

Follow the Ghosts of Gold Heritage Trail for something spooky, or pop into the World Theatre, Zara Clark Museum or Civic Club for a bit of history and culture.

Townsville

Townsville is home to a scenic beach promenade, called the Strand. Here you can seethe world's largest living coral reef aquarium – which is just one of many observations you can spot in the area.

If you've allowed a few extra days in your journey planner, you could take a catamaran to Magnetic Island, which will give you heaps of opportunities to swim, snorkel, go for a horse ride and hike through a national park. The catamaran will only take 25 minutes, so you can spend most of your day on this island paradise. If you are a diving expert, consider heading down to the SS Yongala shipwreck. This huge ship sank in 1911 so it is a fun place to explore.

This circuit loop gives you plenty of places to explore in your car hire in Cairns,  so book now so you can get on the road!